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John Bolton’s Impeachment

How testifying against Trump could clip a hawk's wings with rank-and-file GOP.
bolton

Former national security adviser John Bolton finds himself in an interesting position. Leaks about his forthcoming book appear to undermine a core defense of President Donald Trump in his Senate trial. At a minimum, this has marginally increased the likelihood that senators will hear from additional witnesses. If Bolton himself testifies, the possibility of a worse outcome for Trump remains remote but rises above zero.

Bolton can thus avenge his firing and maybe even facilitate the replacement of Trump with the far more conventionally conservative Vice President Mike Pence, who shares more of his foreign policy views. He can also win what longtime American Spectator writer Tom Bethell described as “Strange New Respect.” Such prominent Resistance figures as Laurence Tribe are already singing hosannahs to Bolton’s honesty.

But becoming an unlikely Resistance hero is an uneasy fit for Bolton temperamentally—and perhaps also contrary to his longer-term political goals. I argued in The Week:

Except Bolton isn’t exactly like the Kristols and the Boots. Taking down a Republican president could permanently damage his brand and influence with the people he needs to accomplish his policy objectives. Is Bolton prepared to do that?

Byron York points out that Bolton is already alienating old friends and making new enemies in addition to winning Strange New Respect. If Bolton does become a major force against Trump, it may come at the expense of his foreign policy influence with rank-and-file Republicans. Who is the median Trump voter going to listen to—Tucker Carlson or John Dean?

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